Old China Town KL The Malaya Study Group Selangor SG 87

The Malaya Study Group exists for collectors of the stamps, postal stationery and postal history of the states of Peninsular Malaysia which until 1963 formed the Federation of Malaya, including the Straits Settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singapore, the Federated Malay States, Negri Sembilan and Sungei Ujong, Pahang, Perak and Selangor and the Unfederated States, Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Trengganu. Many MSG members also collect & study all of modern Malaysia, Singapore, and the island of Borneo, comprising additionally  Sabah, Sarawak, Borneo, Labuan, and the states of Brunei & the peninsular state of Singapore. Study of the whole area so often adds to understanding and appreciation of the philately of Malaya. The Society has a JOURNAL, "The Malayan Philatelist" and a NEWSLETTER supplied free to members, EXCHANGE PACKETS, AUCTIONS and has produced a number of significant PUBLICATIONS on the stamps and postal history of the area.

The MSG Leicester Meeting June 18th 2011

Notes & pictures by Susan McEwen

Another good turn out at Leicester including some members we haven't seen for a long time and 2 attending their first MSG meeting. The morning displays by Gordon Peters attracted great interest and discussion about the Paquebot system and maritime mail. The 2nd half included a number of queries, thankfully some answers were forthcoming.

Gordon Peters with part of his Maritime Mail display


The 2nd round, 'Miscellaneous included a Bangkok stamp vendor's display sheet !'


2 of the 6 frames of Brian Geden's Standing Display



A small section of the book auction before the sale


Rosemarie Geden and Mike Ludlow

A standing display from Brian Geden's collection drew great interest and we thank Rosemarie for agreeing to it. After a light lunch the auction started with 147 of the 167 lots being sold. In all an enjoyable day and a very successful auction.

A full report by Dominic Morris is set out below

Display by Gordon Peters and Book Auction of the Brian Geden Collection and others.

Report by Dominic Morris

The promise of another display by Gordon and the auction of Brian’s library, drew a respectable number of members and guests (20+) to our Leicester venue for the auction of the late Brian Geden’s Malayan library, in which there was also considerable postal bidding interest.

Gordon’s display

Gordon gave a wonderful, two-round display. Round One was Maritime Mail in its many forms. His first two frames were Paquebot cancels, including a study of Penang Paquebot cancels from straight line to circular cancels. This in turn included the misspelling of ‘Penang Pacquebot’, which the authority on these cancels, Roger Hosking, rated ‘E’- somewhere between pretty scarce and very rare. (Gordon reminded members that Roger Hosking’s ‘Pacquebot Cancellations of the World’ is available from the TPO and Seapost Society.)

Gordon gave us lay-men a helpful high-level explanation of the Paquebot rules. As near as your correspondent understands them, they are these: letters posted on the high seas require the stamps and rates of country of origin (thus a GB originated letter for Singapore would require the relevant Empire international UK rate; a letter destined for back home would attract the GB internal postal rate), until the ship entered the territorial waters of the country of destination; letters submitted within those waters to the ship’s purser would require the stamps and postal rates of the territory of destination.

Complicated? You bet. Many a ship’s purser and onshore postal authorities didn’t understand them either, as Gordon demonstrated with a range of items showing ships’ marks but no paquebot or postal mark (and some variants in between).
These provoked a lively discussion in the room, including the theory, which seems to have some force, that several could be consignee letters. These would often carry the ship’s mark but neither of the other marks, being handed over to the company’s agent on the wharves, to expedite clearance of bills of lading and never entering the Straits’ postal system formally.

Frames 2-6 showed some lovely and intriguing items, including: a cover with Pahang stamps via Singapore- probably a genuine Paquebot mark with the cover picked up at Kuantan on the East coast (mail delivered by the West coast route tended to be train mail which attracted a ‘false’ Paquebot mark); the only known Tumpat Paquebot mark - this 1923 cover was offloaded at Tumpat and then had a Tanah Merah transit cancel (TM then being the rail-head) then by road to its destination mark, Kuala Krai; KPM Dutch shipping line cancels to 1948; a cover from HMS Prince of Wales dated 8 December 1941- 2 days before the pride of Britain’s Eastern Fleet was sunk by Japanese air power; Siamese stamps cancelled ‘Singapore’ but no Paquebot mark; examples of the Siamese ‘diamond of dots’ dumb canceller for mail from the Straits discharged in Bangkok (these are seldom seen beyond the late 1920s- Gordon showed us Geo V Jubilee cancelled with it, and a scarce one: the 1c Geo V 1936 issue with the diamond of dots cancel); USA Paquebot cancels at Penang; a 1966 Kepal (= ‘ship’) cancel, used only in that year; Paquebot marks from North Borneo on Straits stamps/ covers; a philatelic but lovely 2c Trengganu Sultan Suleiman cover with a ‘Suddhadib’ ship’s mark; a mysterious rate 90c (6X15c) BMA cover to England on the SS Mahud- an unorthodox rate even allowing for what appeared to be a removed label (Air Mail? Registered?).

As if there were not enough intrigue here, Gordon showed us two adverts for the Siam Steam Navigation Co and the Straits Steamship Co. There was an error in them. We had to guess what. Even your correspondent managed to get right the transposition of flags error. But it took John Jackson to point out the second, hidden, error: last time we looked, there is no St. Helen’s Court, Singapore. There is one for London, a centre for shipping companies at the time, which is what should have been printed. John gets the bag of crisps prize. The posthumous sub-editor of these inter-War adverts gets fired!

Round Two was an engaging pot pourri. This included: an artist’s woodcut of an on-ship postal service in action in 1875; postcards from the SS Hamburg; a ‘by land, sea and air’ 1937 Pahang cover via Singapore; German Naval cancellations, including the famous No 28 cancel used by the SMS Emden (the date and QV stamp suggests this may be an earlier use by a German Naval ship involved at the time of the Boxer Rebellion in China); an only-one known Registered Maritime Mail cancel and Registration label from 1947; a personal letter of thanks from General Sir Gerald Templer to Major McLennan of the Irish Canadian Fusilliers for 3 cases of whiskey (the ‘yours ever’ sign off and the affectionate tone denotes that this was a letter between chums); private air-mail sheets (several of us have some of these but none in the room possessed, and few had previously seen, the ‘Xmas Greetings’ Dove in Naval rope circle, Naval Personnel aerogramme; it is posted in board the MS Willem van der Zaan- even John Jackson, our NEI expert, had not seen one before- a TMP article coming on?); postcards of a grumpy Sultan Iskandar leading a procession (my favourite, but then I’m an Iskandar nut); another postcard of a group of Europeans and the back end of a Daimler with RCP as its number plate (The number Plate is Resident Commissioner, Penang), one of the military gents is Templar, one of the civvies looked liked Gurney, the murdered High Commissioner- but cannot be as Templer’s arrival was after Gurney’s assassination in 1951.

Gordon concluded with a set of QEVII cancelled in Broome, Western Australia, and cancels in Geraldton and Freemantle; a folding Ordnance Survey Map of Penang (1901) and a lovely rice-paper-thin street vendor’s sheet of stamps of Siam from the 1880s to 1942 (which sell for more in Bangkok than they do here); the rare buff BMA aerogramme envelope; and a proof of the NEI SNIP flight aerogramme envelope.

Andrew Norris gave an eloquent and well-deserved Vote of Thanks to Gordon.


Brian Geden Malayan Library Auction and Standing Display

Brian’s collection was an interesting mixture that went well beyond the usual MSG publications. It sold well with several items going well above estimate. The items that went best were those that would be useful reference items in future and his post-card/ pictorial items together with those that illuminate hitherto unexamined items of Malayan life. POW memoir books were mixed, a few sold well; many were already in possession of MSG members. In total 147 of the 167 lots offered were sold (88%) The ‘Room’ bidding was strong and the prices realised were helped by bids from around the world including several members who don’t usually bid in our auctions.

We were fortunate in having in the room two MSG members who are book dealers. One is a new member from Penang. He had brought along his very bright and engaging daughter. As they staggered off to the bus/ rail-station with several tens of kilos-weight of books, the wail of: ‘But Dad, this is quality time?!’ was distinctly audible. (Those of us with daughters of similar age can only sympathise!). Both will be very welcome at our future meetings.

A number of other MSG members with good reference works slip-streamed neatly into the auction’s vibe and got better prices than they might otherwise have done.

Alongside the auction there was a standing display of some of Brian’s postal history Singapore collection. I will not comment on this, other than to say that it ravished the eye of MSG members. Whenever you hear Gordon say: ‘I do not have that and have never seen that mark before’, your ears prick up!

All in all, a very good day. And a very good memory of Brian, whom we greatly miss.

A few words from Susan McEwen

Dominic has given a comprehensive report on an enjoyable and memorable day and has included our thanks to Gordon Peters. I just want to add our thanks for the Auction to: Mike Ludlow + Andrew Norris for the Catalogue; Peter Cockburn for ‘Calling’ the auction; the ‘runners’ Dominic Morris, Andrew Norris + Joe Robertson; John Jackson for invoicing and despatching; Jane Ludlow for her tolerance and help throughout the process and especially to Rosemarie Geden for entrusting Brian’s books to the MSG Auction.















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